Showing posts with label Sushi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sushi. Show all posts

Friday, 11 March 2016

I’m sure most of us associate chocolate with our childhood memories. The first thing that may come to us would be the chocolate bar which used to be divine to us and even today can bring back old memories. Personally, I’m a big cocoa lover and a dessert without cocoa in some form or the other never completes a meal for me. If this is the case, imagine a brunch completely themed around chocolates. When I came to know about this special Chocolate brunch, I was ecstatic. Couldn’t wait for the Sunday to come by. 

As part of a special promotion, Park Hyatt Chennai and Cocoatrait joined hands together for the first time to bring a complete Chocolate Sunday Brunch. If your guessing how, don’t be amused. The brunch had elements of chocolate across all courses. And the chocolates were paired precisely to the menu that was crafted. The brains behind this Special Chocolate Sunday Brunch were Chef Greg & Chef Vamsi from Park Hyatt Chennai and Nitin from Cocoatrait. 


The Flying Elephant @ Park Hyatt Chennai – Guindy

The Flying Elephant has been making waves ever since they opened 3 years ago. In fact, even before they opened, it was one of the most anticipated restaurants as it’s the only multi levelled themed restaurants currently in Chennai with the entire restaurant spread across five different levels each offering its own comfort space. Needless to say, the doors never close as after dinner service on weekend nights, it transforms into the most happening place in Chennai.


The restaurant itself looks very spacious and accommodating thanks to the multi-level seating that it has to offer. Be it next to the kitchen or overlooking the pond or on the balcony or if you prefer a quite space then the top level is your ideal space. Being a Sunday brunch, the restaurant had its own share of entertainment in the form of all staffs dancing periodically along with some fun for the kids with cartoon characters and a Balloon artist keeping them busy. With loads of natural light flowing into the restaurant it was a great place to be on a lazy Sunday. Also the brunch at Flying Elephant is quite unique as most of the dishes are ordered to your table with a hand full of them spread across counters where you can pick them up. This ensures that the food served is always at the right temperature.


The brunch started with soup which was called ‘Sopa De Abobora E Coco’. Yes, a very long name indeed so much that made a note of it as its too much to remember. It’s a butternut squash & coconut soup topped with some pumpkin seeds and coconut cream cilantro. Are you wondering where the chocolate? The entire soup was garnished with an Award winning pure Ecuadorian Lemon grass chocolate. The soup was just extra ordinary with the flavours of the lemon grass chocolate accentuating a good soup to and awesome one. The soup was followed by some sushi of salmon, prawns and crabs.
(Different Chocolate based Mocktails)
Next up was another chocolate speciality dish from the charcoal grills section. We were served with a ‘Grilled Polenta Cheese Cake’ which was made using Ghana Dark Chocolate and served with a cute little pomegranate salad and a honey balsamic reduction. The polenta which we are used to seeing in its natural colour gave a very unique appearance in the chocolate form and had a good texture as we sliced into it. However, it was a good dish it failed to wow me. 
(Grilled Polenta Cheese Cake)
When I proceeded with the menu, I was lit up like a flood light as the next dish that I ordered was the dish I’ve been curiously waiting to savour ever since I sat at the table. And guys don’t be shocked for the dish I was waiting for was none other than the ‘Madagascar Dark Chocolate Paneer Tikka’. Paneer and Chocolate, two of my favourite ingredients paired in a single dish, what more could I ask for. The traditional paneer tikka was stuffed with a chocolate filling made of 70% Madagascar Dark Chocolate. One word to describe this creation was heavenly. I couldn’t get over it that I ordered for several repeats. It was just too good to describe. 
(Chocolate Paneer Tikka)
(Chocolate Paneer Tikka)
Once I finally decided to proceed to the next dish on the menu, I couldn’t be happier for it was another favourite use of chocolate in a savoury dish. It was a ‘Chicken Pizza topped with 88% Gold Colombian Chocolate’. Truly outstanding medley of ingredients. Another of my favourite of the day so far. To go along with the pizza, we had also ordered for another speciality dish of the brunch, a chocolate flavoured risotto. The risotto was a ‘Cauliflower & Vanilla Bean Risotto’ with 100% Gold Venezuela Chocolate. The Risotto was fabulous too with the right ratio of ingredients and brilliantly topped with some mint oil and hazelnut to elevate our senses. 
(Chicken Pizza with Chocolate)
(Cauliflower & Vanilla Bean Risotto)
Stuffed with all the chocolate inspired dishes, decided to just savour a few others from the menu. The Tenderloin steak is mention-worthy mainly due to the perfect way it was grilled so was the rotisserie chicken which was again grilled to perfection with the chicken retaining all the flavours within it. Skipped most of the other dishes as I wanted to head to my favourite section, the DESSERTS. 
(Cheese section)
(Rotisserie section) 
(Chicken all set up)
How can one miss desserts on a brunch that is completely themed around chocolate. The dessert counter felt like a wonderland for me. The amazing array of chocolate based desserts was fantabulous. The majority of the dishes were based on chocolate barring a few for the minority non-chocolate lovers. The desserts that wowed me were the ‘Silk Log’ made using 70% Madagascar chocolates and the ‘Mocha Macaroons’. A special word of mention for the Mocha Macaroon as this was the closest in all aspects to those that are from Ladurée, which is world renowned for being the best Macaroon in the world. The other desserts that were also equally good were the ‘Chocolate Rasamalai’, a ‘Chocolate Fondant’ made using Italy 66% Prendine and the ‘Banoffee Pie’.
(Chocolate Silk Log)
(Mocha Macaroons)
(Chocolate cake with Sea Salt)
(Chocolate cake with Sea Salt)
(Chocolate Rasamalai)
(Banoffee Pie)

The Non-Alcoholic Sunday brunch is priced at Rs. 2295 plus taxes with options for both alcohol and champagne also available at an additional cost.


The Flying Elephant is located at Park Hyatt Chennai in Guindy adjacent to the Raj Bhavan. I would strongly recommend a reservation for meals on weekends.

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Friday, 27 March 2015

The first thing that hits you at the thought of dining in a Japanese restaurant is the thought of Sushi and raw a.k.a cured meat. But on the contrary there also exists a different avatar of the Japanese cuisine namely the “Teppanyaki” which will suit the Indian palate more. This style involves using a girdle to cook the food. Wiki says that “The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan (鉄板), which means iron plate, and yaki (焼き), which means grilled, broiled, or pan-fried”. Folks in Chennai are lucky in a way as India’s first stand-alone Teppanyaki grill restaurant opened here. Named “Teppan”, they have been catering to Chennaities teppanyaki needs over the last couple of years.

Having had my first teppanyaki experience in the middle east many years ago, was truly excited on hearing about Teppan opening and visited them on their first week itself for a truly fabulous experience. Was surprised when I learned that they were having a “Makizushi” festival. One thought that ran through my mind was that how can restaurant that is already well renowned for Japanese cuisine have a dedicated festival for a staple dish. This intriguing thought was set aside the moment we saw the menu as the amount of research that has gone in to designing this festival was clearly evident from the offerings that were as part of this “Makizushi” festival.

The menu was clearly divided into three sections, namely ‘Gunkan Maki’, ‘Te Maki’ & ‘Maki’.If you are wondering what these are then to put them in perspective the ‘Gunkan Maki’ is a variant of sushi that comes in big portions such that two pieces can satisfy even the biggest appetite while the ‘Te Maki’ is a cone shaped sushi equally big in portions. The ‘Maki’ is your regular sushi roll. 
(Tempura Wasabi Mayo salad)
(Palate Cleanser drink)
(Gunkan Maki)
For the evening we ordered the ‘Tori Soboro’ and ‘Kanishake’ from the Gunkan Maki section. The ‘Tori Soboro’ was a Chicken version of sushi that was seasoned with tongarashi and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Being my first chicken sushi, I somehow felt that it did not do justice as there were confusing flavours that did not pair with each other. This re-instated my belief that sushi should never be made with anything other than seafood. The ‘Kanishake’ on the other hand was one of the best sushi’s of the evening. It was made of tempura fried crab stick tossed with spices and wrapped with sushi vinegar rice and sliced salmon. This was just mind boggling.
(Te Maki)
(Te Maki)
The next up was ‘Shake Sarada’ and ‘Karai ebi’ from the Te Maki section. These were humongous cone shaped sushi. ‘Shake Sarada’ was a marinated salmon wrapped in nori with avocado, lettuce, cucumber and vinegar rice while ‘Karai ebi’ was a prawn sushi seasoned with mild spicy mayo and tongarashi, spring onion, tobiko and again hand rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori. Both of them were equally good with a subtle flavour of the meat owing to the enormous proportions of the accompaniments. From the Maki section, we ordered for some ‘Furai maguro Maki’ and ‘Takayama Maki’. The former was a seasoned tuna sushi with cream cheese, avocado then rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori and finally deep fried with breadcrumb. This was truly outstanding as one can feel the heat of the deep fry yet savour the freshness of the sushi all at one go. The ‘Takayama Maki’ was a tempura fried sea bass with carrot, avocado, spicy mayo, rolled with sushi vinegar rice and nori then topped with tuna, sea bass and spinach. This too was equally good but my bet is on the ‘Furai Maguro Maki’.
(Tempura Fried Prawns)
(Fried Rice)
With the heroes of the festival dealt with, we decided to order for another dish which was a hard recommendation from another foodie, the ‘Tempura fried prawns’. My oh my!!! Hands down, this is the best tempura fried prawns I’ve ever tasted. It was as light as it can get while being the crispiest it can get too. It is already in my must taste dishes in Chennai list. Just to bring closure to the evening’s meal, we had some sautéed vegetables, chicken and a fried rice that was prepared right in front of us in the teppanyaki style.
(Dessert Platter)
(Wasabi Ice Cream)
One we were done with the savouries it was time for the desserts. Having savoured fresh produce all through the evening, I really wasn’t in the mood for desserts even though I’m a dessert freak. But one stop at the dessert counter and it all changed. In a short while I found myself in the company of an amazingly silky coffee chocolate mousse, a soft and crunchy nutty brownie, a delectable pie and a well-balanced Wasabi ice cream. Glad I didn’t miss the desserts as they brought about a perfect curtain closure to the amazing evening of sushi.

Teppan is located on TTK Road above Benjarong and a meal for two should cost about ₹ 2500.

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Monday, 31 March 2014

“Fish??? Please no Fish for me”. Thanks to the Chefs at The Leela Palace, Chennai and the Master Chefs from Japan, this statement will no longer have any validity in my food blogging sphere. 

Being a foodie can be quite a task especially if you are into not just eating but also reviewing. The most significant is the ability to be willing to taste all type of foods. This is a department where I’ve always not been able to keep up as there two things that I have to avoid while considering food elements, Pork and Fish. The first due to religious beliefs while the second mainly because of personal choice. I love seafood though and can eat non fish ingredients such as prawns, lobster, crabs, and scallops. Very rarely do I consume fish and it is predominantly in the Asian form of cuisine as it masks out the complete whiff of the fish. Otherwise, it is a complete no-no and has often made me miss out dishes which I know would have tasted fantastic.

I’m sure you must be wondering, why I am talking so much about fish here. Well, beat the irony, a person who absolutely avoids cooked fish gets invited for an International Sushi Training Workshop. Yes, to be honest I was freaking out by the mere thought of Sushi. But being an invitation from one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, I made up my mind to honour the invitation and challenged myself to take it in my stride and try out the Sushi. But yet once again, the mere thought of a raw fish going down my throat was giving me the shudders.

The fear turned to excitement and anticipation when I attended the press meet for the workshop. The moment the Master Chefs were introduced, I was determined that if I was to ever taste Sushi then it better be from the professionals. Chef Masayoshi Kazato & Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa are from the “All Japan Sushi Association-World Sushi Skills Institute” and were here to train professional chefs on the art of crafting Sushi. Yes you heard it right the first time, to teach professional chefs. This new found interest was furthered during my post-meet conversation with Chef Dharmen Makawana, Executive Chef & Chef Avinash Mohan, Executive Sous Chef at “The Leela Palace, Chennai”. Chef Dharmen revealed what I felt was the most practical approach for those who are trying Sushi for the first time. It is always better to start with cooked Sushi before moving to cured Sushi and then taking the plunge into Sashimi. 
(Chef Masayoshi Kazato)
(Chef Hirotoshi Ogawa)
(Chef Dharmen Makawana)
(Chef Avinash Mohan)
The litmus test was during the luncheon hosted for us on the next day. After having been well informed by the Chef’s the previous day, I was looking forward to my first Sushi. The first thing I noticed on entering “Spectra”, Leela’s all day dining restaurant was their Sushi Bar which was right at the entrance and the two Master Chef’s handling the counters. Although the smell of fish was all around but it was not of the way that would put one off. Moving to the Sushi counter, I was shocked to see Chef Kazato using the arm of one of his assistants as a chopping board. This he says is a sign of confidence and control any Sushi Chef must possess. The way he chopped the vegetables on the arm, the vegies came out cleanly chopped with even a slight impression on the arm. It was nerve wrecking to see that as the knives used are razor sharp. 
(Nervous looking Human Chopping Board)
(Relieved looking Human Chopping Board)
(Assorted Plate)
(Beautiful Fish Cuts)
Chef Dharmen was very courteous enough and helped me plate my dish with a range of Sushi & Sashimi as I couldn’t wait getting into the action. I had an assortment of Salmon, Scallop, Squid & Tuna Sashimi along with some cooked Prawn Sushi and a single serving of a vegetarian Sushi just for the heck of trying it. For the first time in my life, a fish seemed tempting to me. The moment I picked up some Soy sauce along with Wasabi, I was all set to take the first Sushi bite. Everything around me became still for a second when the first Salmon Sashimi entered my mouth. I was shocked and surprised at how delicate and flavoured it was. My immediate reaction was, “How could I have committed such a grave mistake being a foodie?” Why did it take me so long to realize how amazing they tasted?
(My Plate)
One by one the other Sushi’s & Sashimi’s were being emptied of my plate with each providing a very unique flavour profile. My favourites of the afternoon were the Salmon Sashimi, Scallops Sashimi & the Cooked Prawn Sushi. Once I had the vegetarian sushi, I realized how there can never be a vegetarian sushi as it doesn’t do any justice to the authentic Sushi. One way I feel it was a blessing in disguise that I waited so long to venture into this unknown territory as now I’ve got the feel of what real and authentic Sushi is straight from the hands of world renowned Sushi Master Chefs. 
(Baked Yogurt)
As I wanted to relish the flavours of the Sushi, I just had a few dishes from their regular lunch buffet spread promising myself to return again soon to do full justice to their exhaustive lunch buffet. From the dishes I tried that afternoon, I loved their Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and the Pita. Their hummus is probably the only truly replicated hummus available in Chennai. How can a meal be complete without a dessert and to do justice I had a portion of the Baked Yoghurt with cracked French Macaroons on it. On our way back after the meal I bumped into Chef Dharmen & Chef Avinash who were very courteous in listening to my experience of Sushi and were glad to find out it was a memorable one. We ended up chatting for quite some time on various topics pertaining to food and the general restaurant scenario in Chennai. The Chefs were very down to earth and were open to giving culinary tips without any hesitation. The conversations really enlightened me on different aspects of food preparation, storage and cooking.

This amazing experience and training workshop was organized by The Indian Federation of Culinary Associations & JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) along with The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai.
(The Team behind organizing the Workshop)
Whenever you feel the need for Sushi, hold no bar, head straight up to Spectra, the all-day dining restaurant at The Leela Palace Hotel, Chennai for a mind blowing experience.

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